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33-year-old Myanmar-born Taiwanese filmmaker nods shyly on arriving, and orders a warm Americano.
That' s why I am surprised when Midi Z looks me directly in the eyes, when he begins to talk and his eyes do not shake. "I don't really care if they call me a Taiwanesian filmmaker, a Myanmar filmmaker or a Maiwanese filmmaker from Myanmar," he says slow but surely.
The son of China's parent, Midi Z was borne in Lashio, Shan State, in the east of Myanmar. It is a "Taiwanese dream" that many Myanmarans have, but most cannot do. Midi Z's siblings, who have all their aspirations for the youngest of their five kids, spend a whole months buying an entry examination for Taiwan' high schol.
It took his boss among the first 50 out of more than 6,000 candidates, and then it took his wife and daughter six month to get the HK$ 20,000 (US$ 2,577) for a pass - 80 per cent of the funds came from the oldest Midi Z sister's life insurance fund, who worked in Thailand, another working-location.
There was enough cash to buy a home in Myanmar. After arriving in Taiwan in 1998, Midi Z chose not to enroll in one of the most renowned high schools in Taiwan and instead attended a technical college in Taichung, Centrally Taiwan, because he thought it would make him more schooling.
Then Midi Z went to Taipei to study designing for university. He has been chosen for his final feature "Paloma Blanca" for the Busan Festival and Copenhagen Festival. At that time, the moviemaker realised that he could make cash, price monies, by making films.
Beginning to put the hardship of Myanmar's immigrants on the big screens, he described how many of them dreamt of getting out of their land to make more profit but succumb to the drug after they drown. That was a topic that Midi Z had seen with his own eye, even among his brothers and sisters. The third fiction play "Ice Poison" (2014) by Midi Z was chosen as the best foreign language movie at the 1987 Oscar Awards, and his most recent at the 73.
He relinquished his Myanmar nationality in 2011 and became a Taiwanese national. Myanmar, China or Taiwan? Warden says he's deaf to these things. In the past, the filmmaker says he had no great option when designing movie concepts because he always shot on a small budget for his first three movies (less than NT$500,000[US$15,700]).
Now Midi Z is hopeful of a $100 million NT or $200 million NT bill, so he has thought about how he will make his next movie. It is not the "what" that is most important to him, but the "how" that he wants to shoot. He also says that localisation is greatly diminished around the globe.
The latest Midi Z feature "Road to Mandalay" was shown for the first in Myanmar on November 7, and more than 200 regional newspapers were present. The next morning, Midi Z reported that they said his picture was not a Myanmar picture and the speech, clothes and everyday customs shown in the picture did not reflect Myanmar.
In this regard, the head master told journalists that Myanmar consists of 135 indigenous groups and, without the local people of China, about 40 per cent of the people do not know it. Said that just because the government has made Myanmar the formal lingua franca does not mean that there is only one of them.
"So, if you Yangon folks (Myanmar's biggest city) think that only movies that use Burmese are'Myanmar movies', it shows that you haven't been anywhere else in Myanmar. 90 per cent of the land has no flowing and only Yangon has it; and only 40 per cent of the folks wear the way you do, so if the actor in the film isn't wearing sarong, that doesn't mean it's not Myanmar," said Midi Z. "That wasn't how Midi Z replied to the reporter, but the thought came to his head.